I tolerated the cursors in Theme Park and Theme Hospital on the PSone because even as a nipper I knew that these games had been ported from the PC and there was really no other way deliver them on Sony’s grey device. The Horde, too – one of my absolute all-time favourites on the ill-fated Panasonic 3DO – had simulation sections that simply wouldn’t work without a cursor. No problem. But we’ve got to talk about this new trend of every goddamn game post-Destiny laying out its menus like they’re meant for a mouse. What the heck happened to console optimisation?
I’ve no problem with what Destiny did: the user interface is probably my favourite part of that series. But it seems like game developers liked it a little too much, and they’ve all been scrambling to add the exact same feature to their titles – often where a simple push of the d-pad would suffice. Let’s have a look at a handful of examples.
First up we’ve got Gran Turismo Sport, a racer that likes to think of itself as less of a game and more a high-class piece of software. I actually think the UI for Polyphony Digital’s online-focused driving simulation is a thing of beauty, and its cursor works in tandem with the d-pad to make a webpage-like browsing experience. This isn’t the worst example given the complicated nature of the game, but it’s all downhill from here.
So here is Apex Legends, a game which has a cursor for literally no reason whatsoever. Many of the menus can be navigated using the d-pad, but sometimes it’ll just demand you move the analogue stick around like it’s a bleeding mouse. I find it most infuriating during the character select screen, as in order to navigate to your chosen Legend, you need to hover over everyone – prompting the preview animations to momentarily freak out. It doesn’t need to be this way!
Then we’ve got Dead by Daylight, an asymmetrical competitive horror game starring Freddy Krueger. But the most frightening thing here is not LeatherFace or his associates, but the fact that its menus inexplicably need to be navigated with a cursor! Why? This isn’t Microsoft bloody Excel!
Ahhh, good ol’ No Man’s Sky – the indie game that was sold at full-price and temporarily made the gaming industry lose its collective mind while Sean Murray and his team dug in and really delivered in time. It also had the goddamn cursor thing, making navigating its already obnoxious menus many times worse.
Assassin’s Creed loves to follow a trend, so of course it’s got a cursor now. Does it need one? Does it bloody ‘eck? What’s wrong with using the d-pad to browse your inventory? Oh yeah, nothing – get in the Egyptian sea.
And we could go on for hours here, but ANTHEM wasn’t going to be a true Destiny knock-off without a bleeding cursor, was it? Except, as with much of the game, it’s a cheap imitation, with the UI obstructed by irritating tooltips and fiddly shapes. Rubbish!
Look, there’s no excuse anymore, and I for one have had enough: it’s time to kill the cursor in console games. I’ll let Destiny off the hook – developer Bungie did a good job there. And I’ll also allow it in certain types of titles, like Cities: Skylines. Everywhere else, though? No. Consoles have analogue sticks and d-pads, not a mouse and keyboard. Somewhere along the line the industry forgot that it’s making games for a DualShock 4 when it releases on the PS4, so hopefully someone is paying attention and this is the wake-up call they need.
Have you got console cursor blues? Do you agree that this menace needs to be eradicated ASAP? Drag that pointer over the screen and hold the X button until something happens in the comments section below.